Out in force for Christ­mas In April

Vol­un­teers make re­pairs, ad­di­tions to county homes

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WATSON twat­son@somd­news.com

Many fam­i­lies in Charles County felt like they walked into a brand new home on Christ­mas in April Day, af­ter years of strug­gling to up­keep their aged homes. More than 500 Christ­mas in April Charles County vol­un­teers helped build and re­pair more than 20 lo­ca­tions on April 29.

“We don’t want to turn any home­own­ers down so we work to com­plete as many of these projects as we can,” said Alvin Ste­wart, pres­i­dent of the Christ­mas in April Charles County board of di­rec­tors. “We’re not just a gov­ern­ing board; we are a work­ing board.”

“It makes me feel good to see so many peo­ple come out in the com­mu­nity to help fam­i­lies,” said Charles County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Vice Pres­i­dent Amanda M. Ste­wart (D). “It makes me feel good to know that they have peo­ple in the com­mu­nity that care about our neigh­bors. It’s hun­dreds of peo­ple com­ing to­gether for one com­mon goal.”

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Christ­mas in April Charles County vol­un­teers at each lo­ca­tion trans­formed worn-down houses into com­fort­able homes with sig­nif­i­cant up­grades to fur­nish­ings,

land­scape and in­su­la­tions. Vol­un­teers painted, caulked, cleaned and re­moved trash, made re­pairs, did car­pen­try work, plumb­ing, elec­tri­cal work and roof­ing.

“It’s a hard day but each team can knock these jobs out in a short time,” San­dra Branan, trea­surer of the Christ­mas In April Charles County board of di­rec­tors.

Christ­mas in April Charles County made ren­o­va­tions to the Swann res­i­dence in White Plains — build­ing stairs at the rear en­trance, a ramp and re­pair­ing the roof.

“I was told by my in­sur­ance agent that the roof was re­ally in bad con­di­tion,” said home­owner Car­rie Swann. “It has never had a new roof put on it. This is a 1989 trailer and I’ve lived here since 1994. When there are storms there are leaks into my house from the top of my bed­room win­dow to the back of the trailer. Dur­ing the last storm we had a cou­ple of weeks ago, it leaked even more.”

Swann said her in­sur­ance com­pany gave her $1,000 to get her roof fixed and it was no where near the amount needed to re­pair the dam­age. Her daugh­ter Tammy Swann knew the fam­ily could not af­ford the re­pairs so she reached out to Christ­mas In April for help.

“Knowing that Christ­mas In April Charles County is do­ing this is very good,” Tammy said. “It makes me want to cry be­cause I didn’t know how I was go­ing to get this fixed for my mom. She lives by her­self so we were wor­ried.”

Swann said it feels like she’s liv­ing in a new trailer. She also do­nated the $1,000 she re­ceived from her in­sur­ance com­pany to Christ­mas In April Charles County, as a way of say­ing thank you to the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“It was meant for the roof to be­gin with and for me to not do­nate it would make me feel bad and we be­lieve in karma,” Swann said. “There are some peo­ple out there who are will­ing to do what they can to help you. There’s so much dis­like and hate in the world it makes me re­al­ize there are good peo­ple out there.”

At the Rosier res­i­dence in Bel Al­ton, a team of vol­un­teers, as well as stu­dents and fac­ulty from the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land con­struc­tion man­age­ment crew, helped re­pair the in­side of the house­hold.

Ear­lier in April, the Ki­wa­nis Club of Wal­dorf helped build a ramp for home­owner Bernard Rosier, 77.

“I feel like I moved into a new house,” Rosier said. “The kitchen had cab­i­net doors loose and fall­ing off. Now I have a new dish­washer. They also put in flow­ers and mulch, beau­ti­fy­ing the whole lo­ca­tion. It looks fresh­ened up.”

Jim McDonald, a Christ­mas In April Charles County house cap­tain, said he was more than glad to work on the Rosier house. He said the vol­un­teers in­stalled kitchen cab­i­nets, a sink, a new dish­washer, a new bath­room door, a shower en­clo­sure, per­formed gar­den­ing work and they even raised up a com­mode.

“Hav­ing the CSM crew here is a bless­ing,” McDonald said.

Tony Stout, CSM pro­fes­sor of the con­struc­tion man­age­ment crew, said Christ­mas In April Day gives his stu­dents an op­por­tu­nity to ap­ply skills such as es­ti­mat­ing, build­ing ma­te­ri­als and meth­ods, and project man­age­ment — as taught in the con­struc­tion man­age­ment pro­gram. He said there are al­ways chal­lenges when deal­ing with older homes but that par­tic­u­lar sce­nario teaches fu­ture con­struc­tion man­agers how to ad­just their meth­ods for those in­stances.

“I’m learn­ing a lot about the con­struc­tion field and how to take care of my own home too,” said Igor Kobyzev, a stu­dent in the con­struc­tion man­age­ment and tech­nol­ogy pro­gram at CSM. “It’s good to have this ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge. Any­thing I don’t know how to do, I am learn­ing to­day.”

“I like to do stuff like this all the time and I’m grate­ful to be here help­ing other peo­ple.” said Levin Lu­cas, a stu­dent in the con­struc­tion man­age­ment and tech­nol­ogy pro­gram at CSM. “This is my first time do­ing this and it’s my sec­ond se­mes­ter at CSM af­ter I got out of the Marine Corps ... I would like to do this more than just once a year.”

Stout said the work they helped do at the Rosier house was a per­fect end of the year ac­tiv­ity.

“A com­mu­nity col­lege is part of the com­mu­nity and Christ­mas In April was a great way to give back to the com­mu­nity,” Stout said.


Above, vol­un­teers from Jerry Lewis Roof­ing Inc. worked on the roof of White Plain res­i­dent Car­rie Swann on April 29. Be­low, a team of stu­dents and fac­ulty from the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land con­struc­tion man­age­ment crew joined forces to re­pair the Bel Al­ton home of Bernard Rosier.


Christ­mas In April Charles County vol­un­teers built stairs at the back of Car­rie Swann’s trailer in White Plains on April 29.

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